October 25, 2004

Porcini Risotto

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms
derived from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

1/2 cup canned beef broth diluted with 2 cups water
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 TBSP chopped shallot
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted
the filtered water from mushroom soak
black pepper (to taste)
3 TBSP freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Soak 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup barely warm water for 30 minutes. Lift out the mushrooms and squeeze as much water as possible back into the pan. Reserve water for later use. Rinse the mushrooms several times in fresh changes of water and then let dry on paper towels.

Bring the broth to a very slow, steady simmer.

Put 1/2 TBSP butter and 1/2 TBSP oil and chopped shallot into a broad, sturdy pot and turn on heat to medium high. Cook and stir until shallot becomes translucent, then add the rice. Stir quickly and thoroughly until grains are well-coated.

Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly until there is no more liquid in the pot. Add the reconstituted mushrooms and 1/2 the filtered water. Continue to stir until there is no more liquid and then add remaining filtered water. When that is used up, add broth 1/4 cup at a time until rice is finished cooking. It should be tender, but firm to the bite.

Off heat, add a few grindings of fresh pepper and the grated Parmesan. Stir until cheese is melted and clings to rice. Serve with additional grated cheese on the side.

Notes: The stirring, the stirring... But always so worthwhile. One must remember to start the mushrooms soaking well before one wishes to eat so dinner is before 8:30pm. Also, the recipe in the book called for onion, but I substituted shallots as I prefer them. This is not a well-organized cookbook either -- better for reading than for following a recipe as this required references to two other sections of the book that I have here combined into one convenient location. This makes two very generous portions; perhaps three reasonable portions.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
October 23, 2004

Pollo Almendrado

Chicken in Almond Sauce
Gourmet (March, 2004)

Ground almonds create texture and thicken the sauce of pollo almendrado in homage to New York's large Mexican and Central American population.

1/4 cup + 1/8 cup sliced almonds
2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 bacon slices, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Toast 1/8 cup almonds in non-stick frying pan until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely grind remaining 1/4 cup almonds in a food processor about 1 minute (don't grind to a paste).

Pat chicken dry and season with salt (if desired).

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then toast ground almonds, cinnamon stick, oregano, and bay leaf, stirring constantly, until almonds are pale golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe skillet clean.

Heat oil in skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute chicken, turning over once, until golden, about 5 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Add bacon to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until bacon begins to render fat and turn golden, about 1 minute. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in ground- almond mixture and chicken broth and boil, scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in pepper and salt (to taste). Add chicken, turning to coat, then reduce heat to moderate and simmer, covered, until chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and sliced almonds. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Serve chicken with sauce spooned on top.

Notes: This recipe adjusted for two servings (rather than the 6 in the original) -- the amount of "sauce" generated in my version would probably also work for 4 chicken breast halves, but more than that would require doubling. I toast my almonds on stove-top instead of in the oven as the magazine preferred. Personally, I wouldn't add any salt when seasoning as the bacon already provides plenty. The sauce ends up being a fairly thickly textured mix with not much liquid. This wasn't like any of the other dishes I've prepared of late (or even in recent history), and I enjoyed trying something a bit offbeat. Tasty and surprising. While it looks like it has a lot of steps, it's actually quite simple to make.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)
October 21, 2004

Pork Chops and Dill

Pork Chops with Sour Cream-Dill Sauce
Bon Appetit (April, 1995)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large sirloin pork chops (each about 1/2 inch thick)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons paprika
1 small garlic clove, crushed
3/4 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Place 1/3 cup flour in shallow bowl. Coat pork chops with flour, shaking off excess. Add to skillet and cook until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to platter. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add onion to skillet and saute until light golden, about 5 minutes. Add paprika and crushed garlic clove and stir 30 seconds. Mix in 3/4 cup chicken broth, marjoram and caraway seeds. Simmer 3 minutes. Return pork chops to skillet. Cover and simmer until pork chops are almost cooked through, adding more chicken broth by tablespoonfuls if liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes per side. Reduce heat to low.

Whisk 1 cup sour cream, chopped fresh dill and remaining 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl to blend. Add to skillet and stir until pork chops are tender and sauce thickens, about 5 minutes (do not boil).

Transfer pork chops to platter. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Notes: Don't try this one if you're not a big fan of dill. I don't mind dill, but I found it rather drowned out a lot of the other flavors. Next time I'll probably take the dill down a notch - maybe even half the amount. And Michael suggested that a bit of acidity would off-set the sauce and give it a more complex taste -- so, perhaps a dash of lemon juice next time, too.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)
October 20, 2004


When I went to visit Deb over the weekend, she and her better half decided to experiment upon me and made not-stroganoff (as she has so aptly named it). Her recipe is here (and I put it behind the cut for my own reference later). It was exceedingly tasty, but I found the basil at the end perhaps a bit mild and had suggested the possibility of trying tarragon, but wonder if it's too strong. Glancing through the Penzey's catalog has not yielded a better suggestion, however.


Step 1
1 lb ground beef or buffalo

Spice Mixture:
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp rosemary

Sprinkle the beef with spice mixture and brown. Drain off fat, remove from skillet, and keep warm.

Step 2
1 onion chopped small
2 T garlic
3 T horseradish mustard
1/2 c red wine
2 cans beef broth (chicken stock'll do in a pinch)
4 small cans mushrooms (or equivalent sliced fresh)
more rosemary and basil to taste

Add 2tsp olive oil to pan. Sweat onions and garlic together until translucent. Add mustard. Deglaze with wine, then add broth and mushrooms and herbs. Simmer while cooking a pound of spaghetti.

Step 3
6 oz goat cheese
1/2 c feta cheese
fresh basil (or tarragon?)

Stir in cheeses until melted. Drain away any more fat that has collected in beef, and add the beef back to the pan. Stir to heat through.

Add fresh herbs. Toss with pasta and serve.

Posted by Jennifer at 8:26 AM | Comments (2)
October 19, 2004

Chicken with Vinegar

Saute of Chicken Breasts with Vinegar
from Cooking One on One by John Ash

4 skin-on boneless chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
5 TBSP butter
3 TBSP chopped shallots or green onions
1 TBSP finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup cider vinegar (or red or white wine vinegar)
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 TBSP tomato paste
2 tsp freshly chopped tarragon leaves
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Lightly season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a saute pan large enough to hold the breasts in one layer, heat the olive oil and 2 TBSP of the butter over medium heat. Place the chicken in the pan skin side down and cook until golden brown. Turn over and cook until just done - about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter and keep warm.

Add shallots and garlic to pan and saute until soft and just beginning to brown. Add the vinegar and stock, stirring to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and reduce the liquid over high heat until lightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the tomato paste and and chicken juices from the platter, then take the pan off the heat and whisk in the remaining 3 TBSP of butter. Stir in the herbs and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the pan sauce around the chicken and serve immediately.

Notes: This came out fine, but I found it rather too mild for my palate. I wanted the herbs to have a bolder impact. I'm not sure I'll end up making it again since I have so many great pan sauces to choose from.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:51 PM | Comments (0)
October 11, 2004

Fresh Apple Bread

It must be autumn. Baking has begun. I already have a double batch of peanut butter cookies into the freezer. Last week I went and picked up some apples from the local orchard, but wanted to try something other than pie. I made this for the folks at ATD, though there's another in my freezer for later.

Fresh Apple Bread

1 c Sugar
1 ts Baking soda
1/2 c Shortening
1 c Broken pecan pieces
2 Eggs; beaten
1 1/2 tb Buttermilk
1 c Tart apples; ground or grate
1/2 ts Vanilla
2 c All purpose flour; sifted
3 tb Sugar
1/2 ts Salt
1 ts Cinnamon

Cream sugar and shortening; add eggs and apples. Sift dry ingredients together. Mix with sugar mixture; add pecans. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Pour into greased 10x6x3 inch loaf pan. Mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over top. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Notes: Nice taste but perhaps a bit on the dry side for me. I have a few alternate recipes to try, though, and plenty of apples left, so I'm sure I'll hit on the one I want eventually. Oh, and we used walnuts instead of pecans.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:00 PM | Comments (0)
October 10, 2004

Toronto: Feathers

There's a place.... Way the heck out somewhere past Victoria Park subway station, towards the area known as "The Beaches." The address is 962 Kingston Road. The neighborhood seems an unlikely place to find a secret as sophisticated as this -- a pub with 430 single malts!

The interior certainly harkens to the classic sense of a pub of the Isles. Dark wood. Cosy tables. There are pictures on the walls, many featuring the owner of the establishment, taken at various distilleries. The menu is typical fare - I had the fish'n'chips (which I practically lived on the semester I spent in London) and Michael had the prime rib special which came with his first ever serving of Yorkshire Pudding.

We weren't there for the food, though. After the meal, with which we had water, we got down to serious business. The proprietor was kind enough to loan us the pub copy of The Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch to assist us in making our choices. We each ordered four singles to try...

Cragganmore Doublewood 1984
Highland Park (sherry cask) Cask Strength 1988*
Macallan (Speymalt) 1978*
Auchentoshan 21 yr Cask Strength*

Bunnahabhain 10 yr*
Bowmore Dusk*
Edradour Cask Strength 1976*
Mortlach Cask Strength 1980*

*Private import (which means it's pretty hard to get elsewhere)

Barely scraped the surface. Will need to revisit. Definitely.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:33 PM | Comments (3)
October 8, 2004

Forecasting: September 2004

Here's a list of deals that went down for cookbooks during September 2004 (garnered from various sources). I don't have publication dates for all of them. Even so, I decided this would be a fun feature to add to my blog - mostly for my own future reference as I build the culinary library, but I'd be glad if others found it useful.

Cookbook Deals from September 2004:

Wai Hon Chu and Connie Lovatt's THE GREAT BOOK OF GREAT DUMPLINGS, filled with dumpling recipes and anecdotes from around the world, to Harper.

Soon to be ex-editor of The Bookseller Nick Clee's DON'T SWEAT THE AUBERGINE: What You Really Need to Know About Cooking, containing advice and explanations that conventional recipe books tend to omit or skim over, to Short Books, for publication in fall 2005.

Mimi Bean and Rebecca Chastenet de Gery's SNAG A MAN MEALS: When You and Your Dish are Really Cooking, a humorous guide to capturing any man's heart through his stomach and his aesthetic sensibilities, to Kensington Books.

Deborah Schneider's BAJA! COOKING ON THE EDGE, focusing on the fresh, simple, delicious seafood-based cooking of Baja California, a cuisine with roots in Mexico, Asia and California, to Rodale.

Dianne Jacob's WILL WRITE FOR FOOD: The Complete Guide to Writing Restaurant Reviews, Cookbooks, Recipes, Stories and More, with insights and tips from the nation's best food writers, such as Molly O'Neill, Colman Andrews, Dana Cowin, Amanda Hesser, Mimi Sheraton, Williams Grimes, Anthony Bourdain and Deborah Madison, to Marlowe.

James Beard and IACP Bert Greene Award-winner, sommelier and wine writer Natalie MacLean's THE CRUSHED GRAPE CLUB, a wine book told through behind-the-scenes stories and insider information about, for example, working at a winery during the fall harvest; trailing a sommelier at a five-star restaurant; the young women who ran the great champagne houses at the turn of the last century; and the journey a bottle of Beaujolais takes from a village in southern Burgundy by plane, ship, train, truck and foot to wine lovers around the world, to Bloomsbury.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)
October 1, 2004

Toronto: Rashnaa

I was up to Toronto again last week for my annual pilgrimage. Good food was had at many of the usual places: Ginger's (ate there 3 times), Ethiopia House, Pita Break, and of course, I had the ever-yummy eternal special of "Icky Spicy Octopus Babies" at Garlic Pepper. This year's new experiment was in Sri-Lankan food at the chowhound-recommended Rashnaa (which means tasty in Sanskrit, a much deserved moniker).

We walked 20 minutes to try the place out as the map of Toronto is much trickier to us than that of New York. An unprepossessing space....indeed, one felt as if one was eating in the living space of a welcoming family. Just lovely and homey; nowhere near fancy. In an attempt to get as authentic experience as possible, we started with Ulunthu Vadi - a crushed lentil dumpling, deep fried and served with coconut chutney. I though it looked remarkably like a donut, and the taste didn't quite work for me, though the texture was very interesting. For main dishes, we tried String Hoppers Kottu with chicken -- rice flour noodles chopped and sauteed with onion, green peppers, eggs and spice. Spicy and very tasty. Also, Masala Thosai - Rashnaa's most popular dish, crepe grilled and stuffed with masala potato. Another extremely delicious choice. Portions were generous, and though it pained us to not consume the dishes in their entirety, we stopped to have dessert, Vatalapam -- flan with tikkul syrup, shredded coconut and caradmom. I'm glad we saved room -- it was excellent. A much recommended experience.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:53 PM | Comments (3)